Friday, 8 September 2023

The purpose


Love is so complicated. But it is also so easy. I find loving people and animals one of the easiest things to do.

Especially as I have gotten older and dealt with my trauma, I have found love to be easier than ever.

When I was about 13, my father gave me a book called “The art of love” by Erich Fromm. It was a book that was pretty heavy for a 13 year old. At the time, I understood very little of its content. It described love in all its different forms: romantic, mother love, love for friends and fellow humans.

It is one of those books that needs to be revisited over the years, like the little prince. Every time you read it, you understand another insight as it resonates to your own life. I don’t think I had any experience of true love at the age of 13.

I thought I was in love with some boy at school, and I loved my parents and sisters.

But the true understanding of love has only come after decades of experience at living and loving.

Love is the most important thing in my life. And I don’t mean that in a gushy way.

I love daily, deeply. As I have dealt with my demons and won, it has become deeper and calmer.

My ability to love has grown somehow,  even though I didn’t think that was possible.

Last night I dreamt I had a newborn again, and I left it behind sleeping, which seemed unusual even in the dream, and my breasts were leaking, and I felt the milk in my breasts again as if it was yesterday. The tenderness and feverish obsession for my baby  came back. The absolute conviction that I would give my life for this human, over and over again, without hesitation.  The task of feeding every two hours around the clock, a true labour of love and effort. Driven by hormones, yes, but affirmed with true frontal lobe conviction: to protect and serve and love forever. Whatever the challenges and whatever that child becomes in time. And I continue to love unconditionally, unwavering and with renewed strength every time they need me. And I suffer when they do, I rejoice in their achievements and miss them with no less intensity now that they are adults.

I dreamt the night before that I gave a friend a hug. A heartfelt hug.

My friends are so important to me. They have become my proxy partners over the years, in the absence of a romantic partner. They are people I can truly be myself with. Vulnerable and bare. Open and raw. It is a scary love that is only bestowed with great care. I collect these people to travel with by feel, those who will respect me enough to care for my heart and make sure I’m okay. Those who know they can hurt me but choose not to.

Love was difficult as a child.

I have not talked much about my trauma before, mainly because I don’t like to upset my mother. But also because I had not yet processed it properly and I had yet to understand it.

And I apologise in advance to my mum. I know my parents tried their best given their abilities as humans, and I understand that. I love my parents. I have had to make a mental cubicle where I keep my love for the wonderful parents they are and what they did give me. And then there is another cubicle that houses disappointment, hatred, pain and resentment. They are now separate and this division allows me to enjoy a relationship with my remaining parent and have fond memories of my father.

But what did I learn about love from them? Love had conditions. I was loved if I was good, if I behaved, if I was quiet, and didn’t make noise. I was loved when they felt good and were in the mood to love me. I was loved if I got good marks and didn’t upset or disappoint my father. It was not okay to be who I was. I was wrong, and bad. And my destiny and my body, my life did not belong to me.

As you can imagine, my idea of what love is was very tainted by this experience of love. The first love anyone ever experiences, the purest form, the one that should be the example to follow as I grew up, was faulty. And once again, this was not their fault, but nevertheless, that’s what I got.

So what did I think love was? Love was the feeling that you were being reeled in and then suddenly neglected and ignored. The draw was to men and friends who were fickle and cruel, who hurt me and I craved it, because it was familiar, it was what I thought love was. Someone who loved me ignored me for days at a time,  had very little time for me when they were tired, respected me when I was “good”, and disrespected me the rest of the time. But this was okay because they loved me. What else could I ask for? Someone who loved me was allowed to use me, my feelings, my body and my life whichever way they saw fit, as I was theirs,  their property. And someone who loved me didn’t wish to hear about my needs, as they are inconvenient and annoying. My needs always come second and don’t matter. My needs are annoying and too much. I am too sensitive and need to change. And if I can just be exactly what the other person needs me to be, then life will be perfect.  At least for a while.

This is not love. This is a plea for approval, a game of cat and mouse where the mouse always gets eaten.

I have learnt to love. Myself, mostly. I’ve learnt that cliches about love are true. It really is the best feeling in the world, it really does matter and you really do need to have self love to love another.

I have not been fortunate enough to find the love of my life, whatever that means. But what I do know is that I am capable of a depth of love that is not a transaction, that is not expectant and does not require someone to do anything or be anything.

I love my friends. I love them and do anything for them. I listen to them, I counsel them, I let them cry on my shoulder. And that comes with the full knowledge that if I need the same, they will rise to the challenge.

What is romantic love? I think the movie industry and fairy tales have convinced us that it is falling head over heels with someone the moment you see them and then you live happily ever after.

Love is a bit more than that. It is giving love and care and nurturing and support without ever expecting anything in return. It is compromise, acceptance, tolerance without judgement, allowing freedom of choice and thought, as well as action. Allowing the other person to be who they are without limits. And accepting that without needing to change it. It is needing someone without ownership, allowing them to shine and achieve what they need to achieve and yet still be in their corner cheering them on.

And more than anything, it means that person is free to choose someone else to love. And even a friend might choose someone else to love romantically.

I am still working out how sex really does fit into this romantic love equation. I would like it to be an extension of love and care and affection. Intimacy that is special and a coming together of souls who affirm their love by sharing this special moment. That might be a fantasy that doesn’t exist....most people just view it as a bit of fun. I don’t know, I’ve been there and done that, and I think I am ready to only bother with sex from now on if it is an expression  of romantic love and the knowledge that this is a person I want around, and who deserves to share my body as well as my time, and my soul, and my thoughts. Someone who appreciates who I am inside and out. Someone who sees me clearly and knows that I am enough for them and they are so lucky to have me in their life. And who wants the best for me, in the same selfless way.

I have loved a number of men romantically. That love hasn’t always been mutual. But I have learned that love is not in vain, and is not useless. I no longer see it as a means to obtain someone’s time or attention. It just is and I give it willingly, whether it be returned or not. Just loving is its own reward. Being loved back is the tip of the iceberg.

So I will not stop loving, I don’t think. Appreciating someone’s physical appearance is not love. You can find someone appealing to look at, but you take a deeper look at their morals and views and the way they love others,  and ugliness drips off them like thick pus.

And I have met some beautiful people in my life who are not much to look at. But that is who they are and how they interact with the world. And that is enough. That makes them beautiful. Sexual desire is so secondary to all that. Maybe it is the fact that hormones fade as we age and our brain takes over a lot of those functions. And so “getting off” is no longer the whole purpose nor the be all and end all.

Love is complex, and yet so simple. Allowing it to happen is no longer frightening to me, it’s good. So what if we love some people in our lives who don’t love us back, or some who used to love us and no longer do, or some who love us as friends. Loving is OK, it’s good and it’s its own end.

It is not a tool to “get” someone, or to trap them, or to hurt them. It should just be.

That’s what I think love is.




Saturday, 2 September 2023

I am beautiful, I am worthy

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that bullshit that people tell kids and are supposed to live by. And when you date as an adult, it all falls apart, to be honest. 

I am probably guilty of it too. I don’t like to date obese men. But that comes from a place that is deeper than skin deep; I do not want to be with someone who has bad habits and I will then follow suit and all my efforts at good health will be undone. 
It seems to me that women in their 40s and 50s are forgotten. Divorced and separated men at our age look for 20 somethings. The pretty girls with little waists and tight buns.

Some of us have equally tight buns, but they are overlooked because we have stretched skin on our bellies from bringing life into the world. We have raised those children that are supposedly our future. We have grey hair from living.
I just hope that I have at least created two humans who will use their upstairs brain to choose their partners or companions. 
Everyone wants to be near us older women, because we are warm and nurturing, and we provide wisdom, and can cook and look after ourselves.
But somehow we are still undesirable and old. Those two words somehow equal. 

Older men want to have us around when they are old and require care, but while they have life in them yet, they do not want us, they chase the younger ones. 
If you tell I am wrong, then why have I been waiting for 17 years to meet a man who sees me?
And I was only 31 then, so what am I missing?

Maybe what I should be asking is why have I missed the right men? Where are they? Do they even exist? 
Are they all married, in successful relationships that have somehow passed me by?
Or is it that I have been so discerning that I am not happy with just any man?

In a way, I have been.

I have been waiting for a man who adds to my life, not detracts. Someone capable of sharing, giving and taking. A friend who also wishes to be my lover. A companion who wants to debate and talk, and delve into the deep recesses of my mind. Those meaty parts that make me who I am. 
Some of my friends tell me I am looking for a woman, that men like that do not exist. Why would I be so heterosexual and be in love with women’s minds? Born in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe? Who knows?

I sure don’t. 

What I am certain of is that I am at a great place in my life. I understand myself inside and out. I have looked into the darker areas of my mind and conquered them. I have survived depression, anorexia, marriage, divorce, loss, children and their ups and downs. And I am still here. And the most refreshing part of that is that I still have hope for humanity and that we are heading in the right direction. 

I know people who have given up, even those in my inner circle. Who no longer have hope for people. 

And I write in the hope that I can reach the small percentage of people who think like me. The world is small if you reach out. 

We can all be beautiful, if we believe we are. We all have worth beyond measure. 

And yet the young seem to believe that lip fillers and make up will add up to substance. That skin products will make them happy. 

Just express whatever makes you happy, at the end of the day. As long as YOU enjoy it and love it, and you are not doing it so that someone else will like it or comment on it. You do you. 

The purpose

  Love is so complicated. But it is also so easy. I find loving people and animals one of the easiest things to do. Especially as I have...